Digital Nomad: What is it? The Best Countries for Travelling While Working

Digital Nomad: What is it? The Best Countries for Travelling While Working

Let’s be honest. Who hasn’t daydreamed of basking in the sun on a beautiful Thai beach while typing away furiously on their laptop, updating spreadsheets, and making bank? (C’mon, you know you’ve thought about it.) Enter stage right: digital nomads, the glamorous cousins of remote workers. But what sets them apart? And should you be booking a one-way ticket to Bali ASAP? Keep reading to uncover the secret of the digital nomad.

Table of contents: Digital Nomad Guide

What is a Digital Nomad?

A digital nomad is someone who uses technology to work and lives a nomadic lifestyle. They often travel and bring their work with them, using the internet to stay employed no matter where they are.

The rapid growth of digital nomads

Our world is evolving faster than you can say “avocado toast.” With millennials in hot pursuit of work-life balance and the demand for remote work skyrocketing, digital nomads aren’t just unique mythical creatures anymore. They’re becoming the norm, setting up shop in cafes, airports, and beach huts all around the globe.

Recent research data shows the total increase reached 131% from the pre-pandemic years 2019 to 2022.

Digital Nomads vs. Remote Workers

While remote workers dip their toes into the flexibility pool, working from home or Starbucks, digital nomads take the plunge, diving headfirst into the deep end. They literally work from anywhere, balancing work deadlines, finding new friends, and snagging the elusive title of Diplomat of Wanderlust. Digital nomads are not bound to a specific country to work. They travel and work at the same time.

Perks of the Digital Nomad Life

Here are a few reasons the grass appears greener (and more tropical) in the digital nomad lane:

Travel like it’s your job (because it kind of is)

When working as a digital nomad, you have the privilege to travel to different places with your work.

Escape the cubicle doldrums and get that daily dose of Vitamin D

Working as a digital nomad means you no longer need to stay in the office, working from 9-5, Monday to Friday. You can decide where or when to work, as long as you manage to complete tasks within the deadline.

Join an ever-growing fandom of like-minded explorers

Connecting with the community can help you access the latest information and build relationships that are essential for the success of your digital nomad life.

Find inspiration in breathtaking natural and cultural landscapes

You will never find it boring to see the scene, as you’re constantly meeting the natural landscapes. And there’s always something to explore in nature.

Immerse yourself in different cultures and experience new adventures

While you’re working as a digital nomad, you get the chance to learn about other professions from a different location!

Drawbacks of Being a Digital Nomad

Reality check! Just like those phone-charging pants that seemed like a great idea, digital nomad life comes with its own cons:

Feeling lonely or homesick – even digital nomads get the blues.

This is one of the common problems that most digital nomads face because they are constantly switching places, so it might be hard to develop bonds or connections with others. Some have been reported to suffer from severe anxiety due to a lack of consistency and prediction in life.

Managing finances while hopping from dreamy Airbnb to dreamy Airbnb

Being a digital nomad doesn’t mean it will be cheap. Considering the accommodation cost, food, travel. If you don’t have a stable income and some extra budget, the digital nomad life wouldn’t be as enjoyable as you could imagine.

Dealing with health care, insurance, and adulting on steroids.

We couldn’t ignore the unexpected consequences of being a digital nomad, especially when it comes to sickness. Don’t forget to do your homework about your insurance plan (that’s a must!) because it might cost you a year’s salary for your medical care if you don’t have your insurance covering the cost.

So, You Wanna Be a Digital Nomad? What Jobs Are Recommended for Digital Nomads?

Calling all freelancers, professionals, and entrepreneurs navigating the digital landscape! Check out these gigs that lend themselves to the nomad lifestyle.

The professional jobs that are suitable for digital nomads are:

  • Coders, developers, or software engineers
  • Graphic, web, or UX/UI designers
  • Digital marketers, content writers, and social media managers

The influencing jobs that are for digital nomads are:

Got a passion for beautiful visuals and clever captions? Turn your charisma into cha-ching.

  • Bloggers, vloggers, and Instagram influencers
  • Travel and food writers/photographers
  • Pro YouTubers and Twitch streamers

Entrepreneurs and investors that can be digital nomads:

Stock brokers and startup savants, there’s room for you in the nomad world and the boardroom.

  • Online business owners
  • Investors and venture capitalists
  • E-commerce moguls

Best Cities Suitable for Digital Nomads

Most countries initially allow 3- to 6-month visas with the possibility of extension or renewal at the end of this period. Canada offers the shortest stay of just 30 days for digital nomads, whereas Thailand issues the longest visas.

Ready to get your passport stamped and your laptop booted up? Here’s a quick round-up of the top countries you and your laptop may fall in love with:

  • Thailand: Bangkok and Chiang Mai
  • Portugal: Lisbon, Porto, and Madeira
  • Mexico: Mexico City and Playa del Carmen
  • Indonesia: Bali
  • Colombia: Medellín and Bogotá

Thailand: Bangkok and Chiang Mai

Thailand, a land of mouthwatering cuisine, renowned Thai massages, and stunning beaches, beckons as an ideal destination for digital nomads seeking a place to live, work, and even retire.

Digital nomad visa: Thailand

In 2021, the Tourism Authority of Thailand suggested a new visa for people who work online and have a lot of money, retired people, and skilled workers. That’s the long-term resident visa. This visa would let them stay in Thailand for up to 10 years. To get this visa, they need to prove that they make at least US$40,000 per year and have insurance that pays for at least US$100,000.

The Smart Visa is a choice for foreign entrepreneurs who are digital nomads and work in technology. With this visa, they can stay and work in Thailand for up to 4 years without a work permit. However, they must invest at least $50,000 in a Thai company or have an annual income of at least US$80,000.

Visa Type Minimum Annual Income Other Specific Requirement Validity Period
Long-Term Resident Visa US$80,000 a year during the past 2 years / have US$40,000 and own intellectual property / Master’s degree To have 5 years of work experience in your field of expertise Up to 10 years
Smart Visa US$80,000 per year or US$50,000 investment in a Thai company A start-up plan and valid health insurance Up to 4 years without a work permit
Smart T Visa 1,200,000 Thai baht a year / 600,000 Thai baht for a startup A contract for at least 1 year with a Thai company, a company that cooperates with a Thai entity, or a Thai startup, As long as the working contract is still valid.

Living costs in Chiang Mai and Bangkok

To maintain the same standard of living in Chiang Mai as you can have with 110,000 thai baht in Bangkok (assuming you rent in the cities), you would need around 75,864.8 thai baht in Chiang Mai.

Portugal: Lisbon, Porto, and Madeira

Digital nomad visa: Portugal

The Portugal Digital Nomad Visa is a type D visa that allows individuals to reside in the country for at least a year. There are 2 forms of the digital nomad visa:

  • The long-term or residency visa is a 2-entry visa that is valid for 4 months. Upon arrival in Portugal, holders of this visa can obtain a 2-year residence permit.
  • The temporary stay visa is valid for 1 year and allows multiple entries into the country. However, it does not grant the right to claim a residency permit.

To be eligible for the visa, applicants must demonstrate a monthly income of at least 3,040 euros from all sources and have a minimum of 36,480 euros in their savings account.

Visa Type Minimum Annual Income Other Specific Requirement Validity Period
Long-Term Resident Visa 3,040 euros per month Up to 4 months (2-entry visa) and a 2-year residence permit upon arrival
Temporary Stay Visa 3,040 euros per month No residency permit was granted 1 year (multiple entries)

Living Costs of Lisbon, Porto, and Madeira

You would need around 3,701.2€ in Lisbon to maintain the same standard of living that you can have with 3,300.0€ in Porto (assuming you rent in both cities). While in Madeira, it takes around 2,032€ for the monthly living expenses.

Mexico: Mexico City and Playa del Carmen

Digital nomad visa: Mexico

Mexico offers a digital nomad visa known as a temporary residence visa, which is available to many remote workers. To qualify, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Maintain a bank balance of US$43,000 for the past twelve months.
  • Have an income of at least US$2,595 per month for the past six months (this amount increases by US$861 for each dependent).
  • Own a Mexican property valued at a minimum of US$346,000.
Visa Type Minimum Annual Income Other Specific Requirement Validity Period
Temporary Residence Visa Bank balance of US$43,000 for the last 12 months / Income of US$2,595/month for the last six months (when bringing a dependent/ Become the owner of a Mexican property worth at least US$346,000)  – 6 months – 4 years

Living costs in Mexico City and Playa del Carmen

The living costs in Mexico City and Playa del Carmen are as follows:

The total monthly cost to live in Mexico City is approximately US$1,617.6 per month, while living in Playa del Carmen would cost approximately US$1,454 per month, which includes the rent for a 1-bedroom apartment located in the city centre.

Indonesia: Bali

The Indonesian government is developing the digital nomad visa, but it has yet to be available. Instead, you can apply for the B211A Visa and stay in Indonesia for up to 6 months. However, note that you are not allowed to earn any income from any sources in Indonesia.

B211A Visa: stay up to 6 months

The B211A visa is a type of visa for foreigners to enter Indonesia for social-cultural, business, or humanitarian purposes. It does not allow working or earning an income in Indonesia. The visa allows a 60-day initial stay, which can be extended up to four times for 30 days each. In total, a foreign traveller can stay in Indonesia for up to 6 months with this visa.

Digital Nomad Visa: stay up to 5 years

The digital nomad visa is a new kind of visa that is being created by the Indonesian government. It will let remote workers stay and work in Indonesia for up to 5 years without paying taxes on their income earned outside of Indonesia.

(The information provided for the Digital Nomad Visa is based on the announcement made by the Indonesian government, and further details are still awaited.)

Visa Type Minimum Annual Income Other Specific Requirement Validity Period
B211A Visa N/A (not eligible for work in Indonesia) Initial stay of 60 days, extendable for up to 4 times for 30 days per extension, total maximum stay of 6 months
Digital Nomad Visa N/A (to be announced) 5 years (to be determined)

Colombia: Medellín and Bogotá

Visa V Nómadas Digitales (Visa for digital nomads) is now available in January 2023.

To be eligible, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • Hold a passport issued by one of the countries or territories exempt from a short-stay visa.
  • Work remotely for a foreign company.
  • Intend to work in Colombia for a period longer than 90 days.
  • Demonstrate an income over the past three months that equals three times the current minimum legal monthly wage, approximately US$700.

With this visa, you can stay in Colombia for up to 180 days or six months within a year. This means that, as a digital nomad, you can enjoy the opportunity to work and explore Colombia for a maximum of 180 days each year. If you wish to extend your stay, you can request a visa extension through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Visa Type Minimum Annual Income Other Specific Requirement Validity Period
Visa V Nómadas Digitales Income over the past 3 months that equals 3 times the current minimum legal monthly wage, approximately US$700 Work remotely for a foreign company, Intend to work in Colombia for a period longer than 90 days Up to 180 days or six months within a year

Living costs in Medellín and Bogotá

The cost of living in Medellín is approximately US$815, while in Bogotá it is around US$821.

Airwallex Banking for Digital Nomads

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Frequently Asked Questions: Digital Nomads

What is a digital nomad?

A digital nomad is someone who uses technology to work and lives a nomadic lifestyle. They often travel and bring their work with them, using the internet to stay employed no matter where they are.

What are the perks of the digital nomad life?

Travelling to different places while working, escaping the traditional office setting, connecting with like-minded explorers, finding inspiration in natural and cultural landscapes, and immersing oneself in different cultures and new adventures.

What are the drawbacks of being a digital nomad?

Feeling lonely or homesick due to constantly switching places, managing finances while travelling, dealing with healthcare, insurance, and other adult responsibilities.

What types of jobs are recommended for digital nomads?

Professional jobs such as coders, developers, designers, digital marketers, content writers, and social media managers. Influencing jobs like bloggers, vloggers, Instagram influencers, travel and food writers/photographers, and YouTubers. Entrepreneurs and investors can also be digital nomads, running online businesses or investing in ventures.

What are some of the best cities suitable for digital nomads?

Some popular cities for digital nomads include Bangkok and Chiang Mai in Thailand; Lisbon, Porto, and Madeira in Portugal; Mexico City and Playa del Carmen in Mexico; Bali in Indonesia; and Medellín and Bogotá in Colombia.

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